China bars foreign curriculum, ownership in some private schools

Under the new laws, public K-9 schools also cannot establish private schools, nor convert into private schools.
Under the new laws, public K-9 schools also cannot establish private schools, nor convert into private schools.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's State Council announced new laws halting the teaching of foreign curriculum in schools from kindergarten to grade nine (K-9) and prohibiting the ownership or control of any private K-9 schools by foreign entities.

The laws, which will come into effect on Sept 1, are the latest in a series of measures taken by Beijing to tighten control of its fast-growing education sector and public discourse.

China currently has private K-9 schools that teach local and foreign curricula. Ninth grade students in China are typically 15 or 16 years old.

The members of the board of directors or other decision making body at a private K-9 school should be Chinese nationals and should include representatives from the regulators, according to the Private Education Promotion Law published on Friday (May 14) on a government website.

The K-9 schools will no longer be able to organise entrance tests or recruit in advance. They also will be barred from establishing private schools or converting themselves into private schools.

China is framing tough new rules to clamp down on a booming private tutoring industry, aiming both to ease pressure on school children and boost the country's birth rate by lowering family living costs, Reuters reported last week.

The new law is "stricter-than-expected for compulsory education schools (K-9 schools), especially in the complete ban of connected party transactions, and K9 private schools can't be controlled by agreement," said US bank Citi in a note on Sunday.

"We expect K12 players' majority of revenue and profit would be under challenge," Citi added.